"Sometimes people fall out of love and do dramatic things. Especially Europeans," says the nice American blond lady. She's talking about Ava, the Belgian beauty who just walked on her husband, nice guy Ezra.
The nice American lady is trying to make sense of the breakup. Thing is, Ezra is coming to a major realization: Ava is probably a con artist who dupes, marries and fleeces nice guys like him. He's correct. But is she all bad, this strange woman?
These days, you know, a lot of people would enjoy seeing a strong, manipulative heroine, perhaps having had a sufficiency of brooding male anti-heroes.
Imposters (Tuesday, W Network, 10 p.m.) provides just that – an amoral, streetwise anti-heroine who is very complicated. Do you root for her or for the guys she's fleeced? That's an intriguing question and it's what propels this captivating new black comedy/drama series.
One of the few dramas made for the U.S. Bravo channel (it mostly airs those Real Housewives shows these days), Imposters had the catchy title "My So-Called Wife" while it was in production. For reasons unclear, it is now simply called Imposters and, in fairness, it's more apt. It's not just Ava (Inbar Lavi) who is making things up – the people who are her victims are not quite what they seem, or claim to be.
The series follows Ava, who is actually named Maddie, as she does her thing. She's a persona-shifting genius who can seem very benign. Interestingly, most of the personalities she embodies as a con artist are very smart and articulate. It's not just her looks that charm men. It's that fierce intelligence. As one of her victims says, wistfully, "She was beautiful, smart, she used all these words … "
It is easy to read a subtext into the basic plot line – these men are not really victims. They were seduced by their own vanity, believing that this wondrous, exotic and supersmart woman could actually fall for them.
As pure entertainment, Imposters is a trim, well-paced chase drama. The first 10 minutes will get you hooked. Ezra's realization that he's been rooked comes in the usual manner. His credit cards are maxed out, and his wife is gone. Then comes a slow realization that Ava/Maddie had her fingers in the family company he works for. There's a terrific bit of dark-comedy business when his brother Josh (Canadian Adam Korson from Seed) encounters Ava/Maddie as she flees.
But it seems Ava/Maddie isn't working alone. She's part of a group doing the bidding of a mysterious figure who gives the orders. As she sets out to seduce and fleece her next target, Ezra hears from one of her previous victims, Richard (Parker Young), who is furious, whereas Ezra is merely sad about the whole thing. They team up to find the woman who fooled, fleeced and bruised their egos. But, maybe, she didn't just fleece guys? This creature is mercurial, with many faces and, maybe, there are many sides to her sexual allure.
The whole concoction is no masterpiece of serious-minded drama. But it is fresh and addictive. The comedy is sometimes dark, sometimes cynical. And it is emphatically about the foolishness of men. As Ava/Maddie sizes up her next potential victim, she says, "This guy would fall for a slug if it was wearing a dress and push-up bra." And you root for her.
Also airing Thursday
Detroiters (MuchMusic, 10:30 p.m.) is a new Comedy Central show that mysteriously turns up on MuchMusic here. The Detroit Free Press calls it "The first sitcom to be fully immersed in Motor City culture" and, indeed, it is steeped in contemporary, busted-up Detroit. But it amounts to a so-so comedy. Sam Richardson (who was excellent on HBO's Veep) and Tim Robinson (from Saturday Night Live) star as small-time advertising guys looking to hit the big score in the ad racket. In Detroit these days, opportunities are limited. In the first episode, they work on an ad for the "hot tub king of Detroit," while nourishing a fantasy that they can get the Chrysler account. The humour is dry, occasionally manic and for all the Detroit authenticity, it's an old-school, buddy-buddy comedy.